Design a Space Pennant for NASA

NASA has announced a contest to design a pennant to be flown into space on the STS-818 shuttle mission. From the official site: The STS-118 flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour will be the first spaceflight of an Educator Astronaut, mission specialist Barbara Morgan. STS-118 is also an important step in the ongoing assembly of the International Space Station. It’s not enough to just come up with a creative design. Students must research their topic, and use what they learn to design their pennant. Then, they must write essays explaining their designs. The essays must tell how the pennants reflect the research about STS-118 or the Vision for Space Exploration. Entries are being accepted now through April 10th by students ages 6-12. See NASA’s official announcement for details. Via BoingBoing



Ficlets A fun writing site (although I can’t promise content appropriateness). Basic premise, you publish a short story (minimum character count 64, max 1,024). Then people add on prequels or sequels. Once you’ve written and shared your ficlet, any other user can pick up the narrative thread by adding a prequel or sequel. In this manner, you may know where the story begins, but you’ll never guess where (or even if!) it ends. You could set something similar up for your class (school, or district) without much effort. It’d give you far more flexibility and possible collaborators than using traditional paper “pass the story around” activities.

Looking for ways to procrastinate?

Some Friday fun: Lifehackerposted “a mathematical formula for procrastination” awhile back. Sorry it took me so long to pass it on to you. Oh, and speaking of procrastination, here’s a tenacious young man who tried with all of his might to nail jello to the wall. (via BoingBoing) Now get out there and do something! (or just wait until later…)

Creating stop action movies

Lifehacker has a couple of helpful resources for creating a stop-action movie for Windows and Mac. Nothing like digital storytelling with “old school” charm! Pictured above: a single frame from my upcoming epic–Captain Limespear.

Create an rss feed with magic

Ok, not magic, but with Feedity. From time to time I come across a website I would love to get updated content from, but the site doesn’t offer a feed. This has frustrated me in the past, but not anymore! Punch in the URL and wahh-laa (or Abracadabra), you have a dynamic feed. via Lifehack

Interactive Periodic Table

Popular Science has an amazing interactive periodic table posted on their site. Each element is represented by an image of where that element shows up in nature or is used in the world. Click on the element and get a quick explaination of its use and a link to further info. via The Junk Edublog

7 Tips to Get Blogs into Reluctant Schools (prt 1)

The first rule of blog club is don’t talk about blogs. The second rule… I know it’s a stretch but this is a fight and you will have to employ subterfuge, guerrilla tactics, mind games and stealth to pull this off. Ignorance and fear are your opponents. Defeating them will enable you to put a powerful tool back in the hands of teachers and students alike. This will not be easy, nor will it be quick. If you can get the conversation started here are some avenues of attack. Have patience grasshopper and good luck. Stage 1- get blogs your web based authoring tool approved as a purely organizational web authoring tool. Don’t refer to it as a blog. Use that word as little as possible. It’s WordPress or TypePad or Blojsolm or some other software name. It’s a site, website or get fancy and call it an “internet presence.” The less you say the word blog the calmer and more rational people will be. Focus on what it can do that will make reluctant administrative types happy. For now- this is a web-based tool that allows teachers to create a strong web presence for student and parent use. Teachers will be able to organize information (daily classwork, homework and documents) quickly and easily on a daily basis for student […]

Organization in a MetaData World (Part 2)

Jim’s finally figured out how to use this system effectively! A month ago I blogged my entrance in to the GTD (Getting Things Done) world of organization. Looking back, I haphazardly entered the system. I did all of my research online, and, when I finally pieced my system together, there were major holes that caused the whole thing to stall. Not wanting to give up on a system that had such potential, I broke down and bought David Allen’s book. Reading the book helped me see the bigger picture. I realized there was more to the system than simply cataloging to dos and taking care of the little things when they pop up on your radar. GTD crystallizes the new reality of work. We are no longer in a world where your work is one cog or step in an assembly line of actions. Our roles in the workplace are constantly evolving, and we need a structure of organization that respects the fluidity of our responsibilities. I spent two nights in my classroom until 9PM to initiate myself to GTD. Every file, every binder, ever poster on the wall, and every odd pile around my room was sorted. Nothing was set aside for future consideration. Let me say that I inherited file cabinets and binders full of resources from the […]


Possible Fun Writing Prompts

Wikipedia’s “speedy deleted” article titles might make a fun, no hassle writing prompt reservoir. I’m not exactly sure how Defective Yeti got these but I’m sure some of you wikipedia experts could tell me (and then I’ll update the post and feel less inadequate). Some are, of course, not school safe but you could just list the titles somewhere and ask the student to write the wikipedia style article that should go with the title. You’d be mixing in writing style, voice and likely a large dose of creativity. It’d be fun to compile them over the year for a fake wikipedia site for your class (bonus points for doing it on a real media wiki installation). Here’s a sample of a few I thought would be good- Polydimensional industrial bio-cosmic psychology of microscopic bacterium Temple of the Jedi Order (Real) Goatsurfing The Angry Video Game Nerd Cheesemonger Ape jazz